Today was the first home game of 2023. We had the honour of hosting Marc Brys’ OH Leuven. If we include the standings, we see that it is a very important match ahead of the Play-Offs for a European place. After the 0-1 win over Cercle, Bryan Reynolds and Nacer Chadli could not be there today due to injury and illness. As a result, Edisson Jordanov and Thomas Van den Keybus appeared at the start. Tuur Dierckx was also allowed to start again after Halil Akbunar left the club.
Line-up KVC Westerlo: S. Bolat, E. Jordanov, R. Neustaedter, R. Tagir, M. De Cuyper, T. Van den Keybus, N. Madsen, M. Fixelles, T. Dierckx, D. Nene, L. Foster
Line-up OH Leuven: V. Cojocaru, J. Thorsteinsson, S. Schrijvers, M. Gonzalez, M. Al Tarami, F. Ricca, H. Mendyl, C. De Norre, L. Patris, M. Keita, E. Pletinckx
The first good chance of the match fell early on for OHL’s side. A low cross from the right was kicked over the bar in the centre of the goal. Then immediately our team also got their first shot on goal. After an excellent takeover on a high ball from Tuur Dierckx, De Cuyper decided to take a shot towards the far corner, goalkeeper Cojocaru tapped the ball over.
On the quarter-hour mark, our players side appealed for a handball. A cross from Madsen landed against Mendyl’s arm but referee Wim Smet decided not to blow the whistle. Less than a minute later, our players saw a second instance of hands, VAR remaining aloof at both stages.
The first half hour was characterised by a dominant Westerlo but real chances to put the opening goal on the scoreboard were non-existent for now. We still saw attempts from Van den Keybus and Fixelles but both players failed to place their shot inside the box.
After 45 minutes, the players moved into the dressing rooms. The game started with a fast pace and a lot of commitment but this languished as the match progressed. OHL missed a crucial chance, our Kemphians managed to piece together a few attempts but could not find the net for now.
The pace of the beginning of the first half seemed to have found its way back into the match. The game went back and forth smoothly and it was unfortunately OHL who managed to score the opening goal. On a low cross from Mendy, Mario Gonzalez managed to work the ball past Bolat into the goal, 0-1. Within minutes, things went from bad to worse for our Kemphans. Substitute Kiyine lashed out from the edge of the 16-yard area. Bolat was able to stop the ball but could not clip it, in an attempt to do so in the second instance he worked Gonzalez to the ground. Referee Wim Smet immediately pointed to the spot. The penalty was converted by Gonzalez, our Kemphans faced a 0-2 deficit.
Our team managed a few more attempts but each time saw the ball disappear outside the box. In the 75th minute, the game was briefly held up after there was a riot at the Leuven goal on a corner for Westerlo. Then it finally happened, Nene was able to kick the ball into the far corner on the volley. Goalkeeper Cojocaru was hopeless, the tying goal a fact.
In the 84th minute, we found ourselves with one more man after Mendyl kicked Jordanov to the ground with a stretched leg. We unfortunately could not exploit the advantage. The match was called off at 1-2. On to the next match!
51′ M. Gonzalez (0-1)
56′ M. Gonzalez (0-2)
78′ D. Nene (1-2)